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No one wanted to cooperate in Newark murder case

by WayneTimes.com
November 7, 2022

The latest shooting adds to a long history of violence and crimes at Tommy Boys Bar & Grill

A shot rang out and a man was killed at 2:15 a.m. on Saturday (10/30) in the parking lot at Tommy’s Boys Bar & Grill on Murray Street in the Village of Newark.

State Police Investigators jumped on the case as extra both investigators and troopers were called in for extra manpower.

The name of the victim, Christopher M. VanCleaf, age 49, of North Main Street in Newark was released several days after the incident.

Investigators ran into a roadblock that has permeated past incidents at the business as once again, “No one wanted to cooperate”, said one investigator working on the case. Another police officer suggested fear of becoming another victim has cloaked the investigation into silence.

It is believed to be an attempted robbery gone bad by out-of-towners, according to sources. Tommy Boys has been the scene of numerous police problems over the past several years. The last shooting there was on February 10th of this year that sent one man to the hospital with a gunshot wound to his leg. His injuries are non-life threatening.

In that case The Sheriff’s Office charged Joshua L. Whitfield, age 24, of North Street, Geneva, with Assault in the Second Degree and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree. The case is still pending Wayne County Grand Jury action, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

On March 8, 2020, Matthew Virts went to Tommy Boys Bar to meet some friends. “There was a situation where an individual had said something that was inappropriate and was discriminatory and next thing you know, I woke up and I was being transported in an ambulance,” Virts said.

Virts was stabbed just under the chest. The knife cut through his stomach and put him in the hospital for 5 days.

In what at the time was described as a “hate crime” by police, it was believed the incident was due to “gay bashing”.

Following an investigation, no one was ever arrested in this case.

In August of 2018, two security guards suffered serious injuries while trying to break up a fight at Tommy’s Bar.

Surveillance camera footage showed security guards being punched in the parking lot after what started out as a fight between two people outside the bar and escalated into an all-out brawl, with several different fights breaking out. The fight continued to grow until sheriff’s deputies and state troopers arrived.

Police worked to identify all those involved. At the time they stated witnesses were not been cooperative in the investigation.

Following a break in the case three men were arrested, two convicted of Attempted Gang Violenceand the third for Gang Violence. All three were sentenced to state prison.

Following that incident the one of the bar’s owner, Todd Nitollo, stated that he wanted to emphasize that his bar is a welcoming town bar.

Former Newark Police Chief, Dave Christler submitted reports to the New York State Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Liquor Authority. The bar was shut down for two weeks.

In total, there have been three disciplinary actions from the ABC Liquor Authority since 2019, resulting in $6000 levied fines against the bar.

Subsequent incidents and reports have not resulted in any village action. Numerous sources have indicated that the close friendship between Nitollo and the Mayor of Newark, Jonathan Taylor, have resulted in a hands-off situation by the Village.

Jonathan, however, said that the Village is indeed looking at all options regarding the nuisance abatement ordinances, including having the Village Attorney, Art Williams, looking at both the 6 month and one year point totals in violations at the Bar. He also stated that the Village is looking at the State Liquor Authority current stance. “It is an unfortunate. All I can say is that it was a horrible incident.”

Todd Nitollo could not be reached for comment.

Currently, Jonathan Taylor and the former Village Police Chief, Dave Christler are vying for the Mayor’s seat in Tuesday’s (11/8) election.

An anonymous business owner has given the Times $2500 cash to post as a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooting death of Christopher VanCleaf.

Anyone with information is asked to call NYSP Canandaigua at 585-3984100.

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